A concerning phenomenon is taking place in the Body of Christ in America, and it has actually been building for many years. The love we have for our country and the pride we share as a nation have actually overtaken many Christians' identity as a believer in Christ! We learn from the Early Church that the commitment of believers is to the “Jesus Way”. Sadly this has been replaced in the lives of many in the United States with the “American Way”! A healthy love of country and patriotism has been replaced by an unhealthy version of nationalism and exceptionalism. I love my country deeply but I refuse to allow it to become an idol that usurps the place of my Lord and Savior! I refuse to allow passionate words from powerful people to distort the life and words of my Lord!
Many believers in America can tell you much about the Bill of Rights but have little to no understanding of the Beatitudes. We have chosen to live and express our faith in such a way that the “moving of God” is governed by political advancement instead of Kingdom advancement. Some live in such a way as to act as though Christianity exists to promote the “American ideal” of life. Christianity is actually a radical challenge to some of those ideals! If you don’t believe it, read the Beatitudes.
The Christian confession of “Jesus is Lord” has been replaced by “We the people”! From scripture we learn that only Jesus has all authority to direct and rule nations. Only Jesus can determine the “manifest destiny” of nations! God has determined and set “times and boundaries” of nations. The best hope of the world is Jesus, not America!!!
In 313 A.D. it appears that Constantine unknowingly injected nationalism and all of its accommodations into the Christian faith. Looking at that point in history, we began to see trends that have made their way into our modern western time. If we look closely, we can see that all of the noble and Godly advances of the Kingdom of God become precariously dependent upon political posturing! We must pass a bill, convince a politician or rule by state the tenets of the christian faith! Why, you ask? Could it be that we simply do not trust in the moving and power of God’s Spirit and therefore need instead the influence of political sway?
As a result we equate the American Way with the Jesus Way! Instead of being a voice for the Kingdom of God and challenging society with the ways of God, we have become a compromised version of The Body of Christ in the world that perpetuates the subtle lie that by conforming government to our definition of godliness, we will have the blessings and favor of God! We are NOT a voting block; we are The Church of Jesus Christ! We are NOT a special interest group; we are the representatives of God Almighty! Or at least we should be. After all, I seem to recall that being God’s original plan!
You see, nationalism, while sounding noble at first; can actually lead to the colonization of people, imperial expansion, economic injustice, militarism and racial oppression.
Back to an original question: Have we in The Church promoted The Bill of Rights over The Beatitudes? I think so! I fear that when we rise to our feet and salute, we can say The Pledge of Allegiance without flaw, but we stumble when reciting The Lord’s prayer! We live a life of unwavering loyalty to our country and its freedoms, but we are spiritual adulterers when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. One of my favorite Christian authors asked the question, “Are you tangled up in red, white and blue?” Again, I must convey my love for America and my profound appreciation for those who serve here and abroad. I am simply concerned for The Body of Christ and the unequaled message of the Gospel! The only message that has within it the power to change mankind.
As a preacher, minister and pastor I am concerned first and foremost with helping people become more Christlike! I am driven daily by helping people walk in authentic discipleship and become an expression of God in the earth. That's my heart, my desire and my calling. The Lord has also called others to serve the purposes of God in other ways such as business, education and government. There are obviously places for service and expressions of service in all areas and I am grateful for those who do serve in these areas. We as followers of Christ can influence all parts of our world through these varied avenues. Let’s commit our lives to Christ in all of these areas and serve well and represent the Lord well! As we do, our society will be changed by the Gospel of Christ rather than trying to expect society to promote the Gospel of Christ and therefore align with my ideals of Christianity. We must realize the difference!